When Should You Get a Trademark?

Is it time for your business to take the next step and pursue a trademark?

Whether you’re a brand new start-up or are in the process of developing a new asset for your product line, ensuring that your intellectual property is protected is essential. At Paperclip Law, our team of experts is proud to partner with businesses of all sizes to help you stay on top of today’s rapidly evolving corporate landscape. With offices in Vancouver and Squamish, BC we’re here to help you grow your company, one step at a time. Below, we’ll discuss some of the key points to keep in mind when considering whether or not it’s time to trademark your assets. Read on to learn more!

What is Trademarking?

A trademark is, in essence, a legal distinction that defines your intellectual property as synonymous with your brand and ensures that only you may use it for profitable purposes. The Government of Canada defines a trademark as “a combination of letters, words, sounds, or designs that distinguishes one company’s goods or services from those of others in the marketplace.” This distinction helps to protect you from copy cats and overzealous competitors as your brand begins to develop and allows you to bring your products or services to the market while remaining confident that your offering is unique to your company alone. Typically, trademarks can be sorted into two different categories:

Ordinary trademarks refer to trademarks applied to words, designs, flavours or tastes, colours, textures, scents, moving images, 3D shapes, methods of packaging or holograms, that are used to distinguish your products or services from competitors. Ordinary trademarks can be vital when developing and marketing your products and helps to ensure that no one else can encroach on your territory while you prepare to go to market.

Certification trademarks are able to be licensed to multiple people or companies and show that a good or service complies with an existing standard. This is particularly valuable for healthcare products, beauty services, and all other instances where a set standard is vital to a product or service’s marketability.

When you trademark a good or service, you protect your assets, as well as your company against creative theft, fraud, and the risk of someone else using your hard work for their own profit.

A Quick Caveat

If you’ve been in the entrepreneurial game for a while now, you likely already know that intellectual property (IP) law can be complex to navigate. Protecting your assets can be particularly difficult because you must ensure that you secure the right kind of distinction for your specific needs. To that end, here is a quick list of what trademarks are not:

  • A patent
  • Copyright protection
  • Industrial design
  • Integrated circuit topographies.

While each of these plays a vital role in the IP world, they all have a different kind of protection that is best suited to different products or services. For example, where holding the copyright to something gives you the legal and exclusive right to copy (or permit to be copied) a specific asset, it is primarily concerned with original works such as songs, pieces of art, photographs, etc. Trademarks are focused on words, phrases, symbols and other identifying factors that distinguish a good or service. Knowing the difference between the various kinds of intellectual protections will save your company time, money, and countless headaches.

When is it Time to Trademark?

While the specific answer as to when to pursue a trademark application will vary slightly from business to business, the general consensus is: the sooner the better. Many entrepreneurs are surprised to learn that the trademarking process can take 1-2 years, which leaves plenty of time for competitors to catch up if you haven’t been on your A-game during the development process. Simply put, if you have a unique product or service you plan on bringing to market in the future, the time to start protecting your distinguished assets is now. From logos to colour schemes and everything in between, the details that help make your brand stand out need to stay in the right hands and a trademark is a fantastic way to prevent unfortunate run-ins down the line. If you’re not thinking ahead, you may be planning to fail.

Don’t Miss Your Chance!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the trademarking process, Paperclip Law is here to help. Our team of legal experts are happy to help you with all of your business and corporate needs, one step at a time. Contact us today to learn more about how we can get you started on the path towards trademarking as well as building your business for the many years to come!

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